Citrus County Welcomes the Suncoast Parkway Extension

  • 4 months ago
  • 1

The opening of the Suncoast Parkway Extension has been the “talk of the town” for months. The time has finally come, after 3 long years, the project has met completion and is now open for transport. As of Monday, February 28th, 2022, the four-lane highway is welcoming motorists to take a ride on its freshly poured asphalt. This new addition is said to be the largest transportation project for Citrus County drivers in many years.

The Suncoast Parkway 2 extends the previous roadway north, 13 miles, from US 98 to SR 44 in Lecanto. Locals say that now, it only takes them approximately 9 minutes to drive from 98 to 44. The 70 mph speeds shave ample time off of locals commute as well as ease congestion. According to Lane Construction, the company subcontracted in to complete the project, The Suncoast Parkway 2 will ultimately help to reduce commuting times and improve sustainability by contributing to the reduction of emissions along the existing roadway network between Citrus County and the Tampa Bay Area.

This project took place in 3 phases:

Phase 1: Connecting US 98 to SR 44

Phase 2: Connecting SR 44 to CR 486

Phase 3A: Connecting CR 486 to CR  495

Phase 3B: Connecting CR 495 to US 19

The project cost $134.6 million and funding was provided entirely based on turnpike toll and concessions revenue. The expense of driving the entire roadway costs a total of $1.87 per vehicle. Meaning, for less than $2, motorists have the ability to make it across town in record time, all while not having to hit a single traffic light.

Though the parkway has had some opposition, most remain supportive of the new extension due to its contribution to economic development and more adequate transportation. A Citrus County local, who’s back yard faces the new roadway extension, claims that he doesn’t mind the noise because of the amount of time the Suncoast Parkway cuts off of his commute to Tampa.

Local architect Jim Kimbrough said “I’ve spent my life involved in economic development and nothing contributes to economic development more than adequate transportation system and jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“I’m a 6th generation resident right here so I believe in this part of the Sunshine State and the folks are going to keep coming here as long as there’s snow up north and sunshine here, they’re coming to see us in Florida.” states Kimbrough.

The new addition includes:

  • 5 wildlife crossings
  • 15 new bridges
  • 2 all electronic tolling (AET) gantries and buildings
  • Related drainage, lighting, highway signs, traffic signals, guard rail and side walk
  • 13 miles of new roadway
  • 158,518 tons of asphalt poured
  • 8 million cubic yards of earthwork was moved
  • 3,109,732 sq. yards of sod placed
  • 80,782 feet of fencing
  • 872 drainage structures
  • 49,313 feet of guard rail
  • 2 full interchanges at Cardinal Street in Homosassa and US 98 in Hernando County
  • 1 partial interchange at the roadways end in Crystal River

UPDATE:

Data reflects that since its opening on February 28th, an average of 6,000 vehicles a day have traveled on the Suncoast Parkway from U.S. 98 to SR 44.

What’s next? Construction will start next year on extending the toll road 3 miles from SR 44 to CR 486 (near Pine Ridge entrance).

FDOT spokeswoman Ivette Ruiz-Paz states “As shown by these initial figures, drivers have embraced the project and are taking advantage of this new travel option to and from the Tampa Bay area. Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise is anticipating continued use of the project corridor with the upcoming opening of the Suncoast Trail later this year.”

For more information visit: https://floridasturnpike.com/

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